The Story Behind the Song – The Doxology

This Hymn was written in 1674 by Thomas Ken. Thomas Ken was a part of the Church of England. The Church of England is very broad in their theology but there are some things that distinguished them. They believed that the Bible contains the core of all Christian faith and thought. They held a high importance to worship but made use of the Book of Common Prayer. This was used by John Wesley, who said concerning the Book of Common Prayer “I believe there is no Liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety than the Common Prayer of the Church of England.”

I have no doubt that these men were saved, they were just brought up and trained in a system of worship that greatly differs from ours. As can be evidenced by the doctrine in their hymns, both of these writers had an obvious knowledge and an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus.

When these lines were written, the Church of England believed that only Scriptures should be sung. They put a special emphasis on the Psalms and some even thought that it was sinful and even bordering on blasphemy to write new lyrics for church songs or even to sing a hymn. When Thomas Ken wrote the Doxology it originally had ten verses and he published them in his Manual of Prayers for the students at Winchester College. Probably to satisfy the Church of England, he included strict instructions the students were only to use his Manual of Prayers for private devotions in their room and not as hymn singing.

The predominant doctrine of the Doxology is the Doctrine of the Trinity seen clearly in the last line “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Let us look at these lines and call to mind some scripture from which Thomas Ken may have had in mind as he penned these words. From the line “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Two verses immediately come to mind. John 3:27 “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”, And James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Thomas Ken had a very personal walk and was a very devout student of the Word of God, it is very possible that these verses led to the line Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

As we look at the next line, Praise Him, all creatures here below Psalms 150 comes to mind. The last 5 psalms, psalm 146 – 150 are known as the Hallelujah psalms, the doxology of the Hebrew hymnbook. John Phillips calls Psalms 150 “the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ of the Hebrew hymnbook” All of the psalms begin and end with the phrase “Praise ye the LORD”. Psalms 150 verse 2, 3, 4 and 5 all begin with the phrase “Praise him”. Verse 6 is what comes to mind when I think of the second line of the doxology, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.

The third line, Praise Him, all creatures here below, brings to mind Psalms 148. Verse 7 declares “Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:” Verse 8 and 9 includes nature in praise, but verse 10 includes “Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl.

The last line of the doxology, “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost” speaks of the Trinity, the tri-personal existence of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. The Doctrine of the trinity is a truth of Revelation that is revealed in the Scripture. The Doctrine of the Trinity does not imply tritheism, even though there are three separate and distinct persons of the God head, there is but one essence. The Doctrine of the Trinity can be seen in the first chapter of the first book in the Bible, Genesis. Genesis 1:26 says “And God said, Let US make man in OUR image. The word for God is the Hebrew word Elohiym and is plural in its form. Now this does not imply that there is more than one God, rather it sets forth the Doctrine of the Trinity.

The clearest picture of the Trinity is seen in the Baptism of Jesus. All three persons of the Godhead are seen. You see Jesus, the Son as he is baptized, you see the Spirit of God descending like a dove and you hear the voice of the Father as he declares “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and THESE THREE ARE ONE.

After a close examination of the most known verse of the beloved hymn that we call the Doxology, there is but one conclusion that you can come to, Thomas Ken had a personal walk with the Lord Jesus and accepted, yea, promoted the Doctrine of the Trinity.